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Old 10th July 2011, 19:01   #16
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering M

very nice and comprehensive travelogue!! have had the Chettinad chicken, but never had a chance to visit the place. adding this to the list to places to visit!
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Old 10th July 2011, 22:58   #17
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering M

I come from this great culture and caste called Nattukottai Chettiar or NAGARATHAR. I feel very proud in saying that i am from this culture.

The male members are called "CHETTIAR"
The female members are called "ACHI".


History :-Dating back to the history the civilisation started in a small village called the Poompuhar where major of the people died due to the heavy floods , something like the tsunami which killed almost all the female members. Because normally the male members will be indulged in business abroad like Burma, Malaysia etc. The major business was textiles. Only the old grandfathers called the "Aiyyas" stay in India in order to guide the female members.Then being invited by the kings of Sivagangai and Ramanathapuram and Pudukottai samasthanam, our great grandfathers found the place to be very dry and no risk any more flood. Therefore they shifted to these places in the Sivagangai district of Tamilnadu.

Let me say things which i know about these great houses CALLED THE "VALAVU VEEDU" :

First the small entrance with a small corridor that is the walk in passage with small vacant land on both the sides of the entrance.Normally these houses are very much raised from the ground level to avoid the entry of water inside the houses during the time of floods.

Next is the sit out facility called the "Thinnai"

Then is the main entrance carved out of Burma teak wood. It is said that our great grandfathers {we call them "Aiyya"} purchased all these teak wood logs in Burma and carried in the Ships and vessels and brought to India for the purpose of construction.Refer your 12th picture with the description "The view from Veranda - The doors of the different halls are aligned in straight line with the gate. Since Chettiar men were always on travel for trade, this was necessary to help ladies of the house to watch from inner court yard anyone coming to house" is the Entrance.

After entrance again there is a provision for sitting facility, just a get togther small hall called the "Pattalai" which is the get together hall for all the relatives. In terms of todays nomenclature it can be called a hall.

Then comes the "Nadu vaasal" the courtyard sometimes covered with grills surrounded by rooms called the "Arai". Even these room door are made of complete Burma teak.These rooms are used to store all important and valuable things and only in the winter season these were used as bedrooms to sleep and the roof are all made of complete burma teak to keep the room warm.Your picture no.20 and 21 with the description "The Inner Court yard - This place and rooms around it is used by ladies of the house. Since ladies never used to go out, it was necessary to provide light to them and hence the court yard".

Between the Courtyard and the rooms the walking passage is called the " Sutthu patti" which is of complete Athangudi tiles and now a days after those tiles have been mutilated completely, people have started to make it with mosiac/granite flooring.Refer your picture no. 22 with the description "Tile marvel".


Then starts the Rendamkattu/Moonamkattu/Naalamkattu which are again the same type of building structures as described earlier but with not some much of wood work . These are called the "KALYANAKOTTAGAI" which is the bigs halls used during the marraiges and "SAAPADTTU PANDHI" which means dining halls used during marraiges.Refer picture no. 15 & 16 with title "The Dining halls - Look at the colourful Attangudi tile work"

Then is the 1st floor again surrounded by rooms called the "MACCHU ARAI".

These houses are easily aged at not less than 200 years. Initially these houses were built by one person only and later when the generations came, they belonged to many people. And they are divided only for name sake and usage purpose. But there is never a division in the physical structure of the houses. A small share is given to each MALE MEMBER of the family. And during the marraiges there is no concept of share/ small portion, instead the whole house will be used irrespective of anyones share by the person who is conducting marraige for his son/ duaghter. The marraige takes place in the bride's house only.

Now a days many hotels, restuarants use these names and potray themselves as Chettinad Cuisine which is definitely not true. It is only those very few people called the "Chettinad Samayalkaarar" which means the people who actually worked in the earlier Chettinad houses as the Cook will be eligible to be called so.

Normally our marraiges are held for three days. With many formalities like Mana poduvadhu- which means the Marraige platform.
Modhal seeru, maru seeru
Mappilai alaipu- Mean to invite the Groom
Ponnu alacha palagaram- Means the Special supper meal for having invited the bride in her new house. This treat is given by the Groom's family.

Huge amount of dowries and gifts are involved and the concept called the "Maamiyaa saaman" whcih means that the bride's parents give dowry to the mother of the groom and this money doesn't even belong to the groom and it is the sole discretion of the parents of the groom to spend this money as per their wish. According to me this is illegal and an strictly avoidable act.

As far as jewellery is concerned, they run in kgs (not all, only the rich ones). As a matter of auspiciousness the used jewellery of the ancestors will form part of the jewellery. My mother also has a diamond ring aged close to 150 years and the value of which is unknown.

Bad memories:- I remember my grandmother saying that one of such beautiful house which belonged to us was sold off in exchange for a debt of Rs. 900/-. My dad even was ready to pay 2.5 crores for the house which is still existing, but the owner of the house turned down the request.

But now a days the great houses are destroying.No one has that much money to spend on that and people are just selling away the doors, windows and other valuable stuff and destroying these houses and are building new small houses as per todays culture which is a sad thing. If this continues, then we should also show the pictures only and explain our future generations.

Thats it i remember. I am still a 25 years old and need to know much more things about this great culture.

Last edited by rki2007 : 10th July 2011 at 23:06.
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Old 11th July 2011, 14:50   #18
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering M

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Originally Posted by raju2512 View Post
Thanks for the wonderful photos and write up. Though I spent my school days in Trichy , never had a chance to visit Karaikudi.

Many of the families who own these houses are now financially weak and couldn't afford the restoration work which could be very costly. May be the government should buy these properties and restore them to their past glory. This place does have very huge tourism potential.

The Road from Danushkodi to land's end is an off roader's delight. Please do make the trip if you visit Rameswaram again
Thanks Raju. Now that NH 7 is such a nice road - lazy road as AMPERE rightly calls it! - you should do it. Do it before Pongal and the rural sights should be amazing.

Many families do not have finanacial support to restore the place even though they are living there. To add to that is the issue of multiple ownership issues where there is no consensus. Yes, Govt should help or take over the houses which will come up for sale and restore them.

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Originally Posted by Fordmanchau View Post
This a fantastic travelogue.
Though a short one , this writing of yours was dripping history and I loved it.
The photos of these mansions was a delight to watch.
Truly shows India's cultural richness.
Thanks Fordmanchau. Kanadukathan is such a delight, i was surprised.

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Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
How much time did you take from Dindigul to Karaikudi?
And how was the Karaikudi-Devapattinam road?
Sirji, The road from Karaikkudi to Devipatnam is very good except for a small patch of broken road of 500 meters. I took one and half hour for Dindigul - Karaikkudi stretch via Natham. Two lane road with hardly any traffic.

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Originally Posted by BurningHeart View Post
Excellent photographs. I was intrigued by the rise and fall of the Chettiars. Always wanted to visit and it is good to know that roads were fantastic.
Burning heart, nice to know you liked it. Some families of Chettiars are really doing well in Business, politics and education. These families are maintaining their mansions which they use it for ceremonial family occassions like Marriage etc. It is only those familiies who have not been doing well are not able to maintain the mansions.

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Originally Posted by amitwlele View Post
@Fauji - Wonderful Travelogue and beautiful photos of the mansions.

I have never visited that part of India and my only encounter with it has been while eating Chettinad Chicken in Pune or Mumbai. I am sure the Chettinad Thali would be to die for.
You should make a trip both to savour these mansions and Chettinad chicken, Chettinad prawn masala and Chettinad Rabbit fry in The Bangala. I have read that these guys in Bangala are awesome with their Non -veg menus.

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Originally Posted by ampere View Post
Amazing one there fauji! This part of TN is something which every one has heard off and also experienced with their taste buds. But no one has ever feasted it through their eyes.

Now thanks to you, there is one more area, which has opened for exploration.
Great captures of a colourful place. A DSLR? If not I would suggest you should get one at the earliest!
Thanks Ampere. This was long overdue trip for us ever since my Sister-in-law did her excellent thesis on Chettinad.

Yes. We bought Nikon D 3100 after our disaster with Leoperd shot in BR Hills. All pictures are shot in Nikon D 3100. We did not carry the zoom lens. All pictures were taken by my wife and I did minimal post processing in Picassa 3.The effect has been excellent.

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Originally Posted by predatorwheelz View Post
Off topic, I have a strong feeling the movie Virasat was shot inside the Bangala. The inner court yard and the main hall are very similar to the building they show in the movie!
You are correct. If i am not wrong, this is a mansion in another village which we did not visit and that mansion is suppossed to be popular with Tamil film industry. Since Virasat was a remake of Tamil movie, it was shot here as well.

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Originally Posted by hdnivara View Post
The Athangudi tiles look exquisite. By any chance did you happen to check the price of the same? Like what-it-costs/sq. ft. and so..
Thanks HDNIVARA. These tiles are very excellent but cheap and cost you Rs 22 per peice which is just throw away price. The beauty of these tiles is that the shine gets enhanced with usage. If you buy in bulk it will be still cheaper.

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Originally Posted by IronH4WK View Post
very nice and comprehensive travelogue!! have had the Chettinad chicken, but never had a chance to visit the place. adding this to the list to places to visit!
Yes sir. You would love your chicken in Bangala. You should visit the place.

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Originally Posted by rki2007 View Post
I come from this great culture and caste called Nattukottai Chettiar or NAGARATHAR. I feel very proud in saying that i am from this culture.

Thats it i remember. I am still a 25 years old and need to know much more things about this great culture.
RKI, Thanks so much for details. Yes, the community has to come together to preserve the heritage which is so rich in everything!! Can't depend on the govt. Some community elders are doing some work in this direction.

As you rightly mentined, the younger generations - like you - are now taking interest in preservation which is a real good sign.

In one of snaps i have posted here, the joint family is so poor that they are making snacks and selling it for their livelihood not being aware - or may be aware - that the door frame in their house is worth in lakhs!!!
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Old 11th July 2011, 19:17   #19
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering M

@Fauji bhai - lovely travelogue with great pictures to accompany it. Loved the details on tile making, the mansions, wood work, tiles, interior layouts, Thanks for sharing !
One of the mansions, the chettinad palace seemed like the one in a tamil movie 'kandukondein kandukondein' (I may be wrong though).
This is definitely on my list of places to visit soon !
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Old 11th July 2011, 20:31   #20
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering M

@RKI

Thats quite a comprehensive summary.
Just wanted to mention, it would have been fun and nice for you to see your own backyard through a different eye!

It makes a very nice read: both the TL and your post.
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Old 11th July 2011, 21:34   #21
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering M

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Originally Posted by NPV View Post
@Fauji bhai - lovely travelogue with great pictures to accompany it. Loved the details on tile making, the mansions, wood work, tiles, interior layouts, Thanks for sharing !
One of the mansions, the chettinad palace seemed like the one in a tamil movie 'kandukondein kandukondein' (I may be wrong though).
This is definitely on my list of places to visit soon !
Yes Kandukondein Kandukondein was shot in the Chettinad Palace at Kanadukathan near Karaikudi which belong the Sir. M.A.M.Ramasamy, one of the royal family of Chettinad. Our Home Minister Mr. P.Chidambaram comes from this family.
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Old 11th July 2011, 21:38   #22
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering M

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Originally Posted by ampere View Post
@RKI

Thats quite a comprehensive summary.
Just wanted to mention, it would have been fun and nice for you to see your own backyard through a different eye!

It makes a very nice read: both the TL and your post.
Thanks Ampere. You are perfectly right. It was like seeing something which i love so much and that stays with me. This piece of information brought out by Fauji took me to the higest level of excitement and happiness.
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Old 11th July 2011, 21:56   #23
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering M

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Originally Posted by rki2007 View Post
Thanks Ampere. You are perfectly right. It was like seeing something which i love so much and that stays with me. This piece of information brought out by Fauji took me to the higest level of excitement and happiness.
Rki,

I was fascinated by Chettinad for a long time and it was fulfilled only last week. I was as excited and awestruck like you on seeing these beautiful mansions which in no way is less than some of the palaces i have seen in Rajasthan except that they are no located in a fort!!

Kanadukathan specially has to be preserved as a heritage village like we have latin quarters in Goa or Havelis of Shekhavati. I undertsand that some effort is being made when i was talking to Achi - Mrs Meenakshi Meyyappan of Bangala.

I happenned to read this excellent travelogue on the region which i feel will complement what i have written here.

The Temples of Tamil Nadu - Articles | Travel + Leisure
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Old 11th July 2011, 23:48   #24
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering M

Fantastic travelogue again Fauji sir
Loved the narration, and all the details you have provided along with the awesome pics.

It was a delight to see the pics of the wonderful mansion, the tiles and the temple!
Hope you get to explore the dhanushkoDi island on your next visit.

Can you please share details on the tariff for stay in BANGALA?

You inspired me to agumbe recently, and this might be among my weekend plans soon too
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Old 12th July 2011, 11:59   #25
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering M

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Originally Posted by Fauji View Post
Typically Chettinad mansions are so huge that they are fort like and stretch between two streets, the front door opening into one while the back door to the other!

Interestingly, the houses are an amalgamation of various things – Burmese teak columns, Spanish tiles, Italian marble floor and locally available Attangudi tiles.
Excellent Narration and awesome Pictures. Mansions are grand and magnificent. Thanks for sharing

Is entry to these grand structures open to public ? or the visits are by a special arrangement ? Can you please share the contact details of BANGALA.

One more question, is it mandatory to use only the local vans for offroading near Dhanushkodi or can we use our own 4X4s

Quote:
Originally Posted by rki2007 View Post
I come from this great culture and caste called Nattukottai Chettiar or NAGARATHAR. I feel very proud in saying that i am from this culture.
During my work visits to Far East, i happend to interact with nice gentlemen from Nattukottai Chettiar community. I was then briefly informed about their great culture and their mansions. Your post has given more indepth information.
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Old 12th July 2011, 13:00   #26
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering M

Brilliant travelogue. I visited and stayed at the Bangala in 2006. The kind of money that these people have is not funny. If the Japanese had not invaded Malaysia and Burma, the Chettiars would have been running those economies.

I might have some interior pics of MAM's house. Most of these houses are retained for weddings and never lived in otherwise/
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Old 12th July 2011, 13:58   #27
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering M

Fantastic travelouge and brilliant pics. Thanks for letting know of new route for covering Rameshwaram. Didnt you visit Dhanuskodi?
Are you using the kit lens of 18-55 or you have got another lens, if yes please let know. The color details in your pics are simply amazing.
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Old 12th July 2011, 15:36   #28
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering M

Great travelogue Fauji. thanks for sharing. You have given me another weekend trip option.

Can you share tarif details at the Bangala? place looks amazing to relax.
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Old 12th July 2011, 20:38   #29
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering M

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Originally Posted by NPV View Post
@Fauji bhai - lovely travelogue with great pictures to accompany it. One of the mansions, the chettinad palace seemed like the one in a tamil movie 'kandukondein kandukondein'
Quote:
Originally Posted by rki2007 View Post
Yes Kandukondein Kandukondein was shot in the Chettinad Palace at Kanadukathan near Karaikudi which belong the Sir. M.A.M.Ramasamy
Yes Sir. The movie was shot in Chettinad palace. We could not go inside as it is being renovated for his 80th birthday celebrations in September.


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Originally Posted by figo_united View Post
Fantastic travelogue again Fauji sir
Hope you get to explore the dhanushkoDi island on your next visit.

Can you please share details on the tariff for stay in BANGALA?
Thanks Figo. Yes, Dhanushkodi beach is beautiful and unspoilt. I understand that it is also an off roaders delight. Definitely on the to-do list. The tariff in Bangala is Rs 5250 per day which includes sumptous breakfast. Lunch and dinner is charged seperately which is @ Rs 650 per head which i found it very steep for Veggies. But you will not have any complaint with the meals as it is heavenly!

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Originally Posted by Night_Hawk View Post
Is entry to these grand structures open to public ? or the visits are by a special arrangement ? Can you please share the contact details of BANGALA. One more question, is it mandatory to use only the local vans for offroading near Dhanushkodi or can we use our own 4X4s
Bangala guys have leased out a mansion which they maintain and show it to their guests. They charge Rs 50 as entry fee. A guide is also provided at Rs 300 for the whole tour for half day. Same thing is done by Visalam also. I am not sure whether the Chettinad Palace has any entry fees as such and what i understood is that the family is not encouraging visitors inside which if true is really sad. Otherwise, people are friendly and you can just walk into any mansions.

For details on Bangala you can visit their website www.thebangala.com

I am not sure about private vehicles being allowed to drive through Dhanushkodi till Rama Setu or Adam's bridge.

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Originally Posted by ajmat View Post
Brilliant travelogue. I visited and stayed at the Bangala in 2006. The kind of money that these people have is not funny. If the Japanese had not invaded Malaysia and Burma, the Chettiars would have been running those economies.

I might have some interior pics of MAM's house. Most of these houses are retained for weddings and never lived in otherwise/
Thanks Ajmat. You are correct. The houses are kept for ceremonial occassions as most of rich families stay in Chennai as they have business interests. Do post if have pics of interiors of Palace.

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Originally Posted by mpksuhas View Post
Fantastic travelouge and brilliant pics. Thanks for letting know of new route for covering Rameshwaram. Didnt you visit Dhanuskodi? Are you using the kit lens of 18-55 or you have got another lens, if yes please let know. The color details in your pics are simply amazing.
Thanks Suhas. Yes, i used kit lens which came with Nikon D 3100. I also had 70-300 zoom which i did not take. I did minimal post processing in Picassa 3. We did go to Dhanushkodi beach but could not go further till Adam's bridge or Rama Setu.

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Originally Posted by supertinu View Post
Great travelogue Fauji. thanks for sharing. You have given me another weekend trip option. Can you share tarif details at the Bangala? place looks amazing to relax.
Thanks Super Tinu, Yes, this is a good option to explore region now that roads are good. I have mentioned details about Bangala above. You also have another option in Saratha Vilas which looks awesome.
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Old 13th July 2011, 07:52   #30
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Default Re: Fauji's Drivologues: Charming Chettinad - Magnificent Mansions & Mouth Watering M

Wonderful details and great pictures. This is now on my list of "must visit" places.
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